An immigration judge in Atlanta denied an attorney's request to delay a hearing that fell during her six-week maternity leave—and then scolded her in front of a packed courtroom when she showed up with her 4-week-old strapped to her chest and the infant began to cry, the attorney said. When Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle took on two young brothers as clients in early September, she immediately filed a request to postpone their next hearing, which was set for a month later, she said. In an order denying her request, immigration judge J. Dan Pelletier Sr. wrote, "No good cause. Hearing date set prior to counsel accepting representation." At home in bed, Ehrisman-Mickle was shocked when her secretary called to tell her the motion had been denied. Her truck driver husband was out of state, her 4-week-old daughter was too young for day care, and she has no family in the area.
She called her daughter's pediatrician to ask if it would be safe to bring the baby with her to court. The doctor told her it would be OK as long as she kept the infant in a carrier on her chest facing her. During the hearing, her baby began to cry, and Pelletier scolded her for inappropriate behavior and commented that her pediatrician must be appalled that she was exposing the baby to so many germs in court. "I felt humiliated," she said. Another lawyer who was present in the courtroom confirmed the details of Ehrisman-Mickle's story. Reached by phone, Pelletier said immigration judges can't make public comment and referred questions to the public affairs office of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the branch of the Department of Justice that oversees immigration courts. Ehrisman-Mickle has filed a formal complaint. (Read more attorney stories.)